By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

Hancock County voters are being asked to renew a 2.5-mill, five-year property tax for the county Board of Developmental Disabilities on the May 7 primary ballot.

The $4 million generated by the tax each year comprises about 45 percent of Blanchard Valley Center’s revenue.

The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $67 per year, the Hancock County auditor’s office reported.

Much of the tax money is used to support clients’ residential needs; to give them “day habilitation,” including activities like bowling, going to lunch or a movie; employment and vocational support; and funding of Blanchard Valley School.

“We serve birth to death,” Superintendent Kelli Grisham said. “There’s no easy way around it.”

Studies have found that early intervention with infants and toddlers showing developmental delays can prevent 33 percent of them from needing any further assistance, Grisham said.

“So we funnel a lot of money into early intervention,” she said.

Blanchard Valley Center sends speech, occupational and physical therapists into the homes of children up to 3 years of age showing developmental delays. The specialists teach parents how to do therapy and how to play therapeutically with their children, Grisham said.

For preschool-age children, Blanchard Valley’s preschool integrates children with disabilities with those who have no disabilities.

Some clients will attend school at Blanchard Valley School until they are 22 and graduate. But most kids who start at Blanchard Valley’s preschool are later mainstreamed in their local school district, she said.

An additional service helps clients 14 to 22 years old transition to adulthood.

They explore what their lives will be like after school. The program helps them make plans and set goals. The number of clients served by Blanchard Valley Center fluctuates, but it currently is about 600. Every Hancock County resident who has a developmental disability is supported by Blanchard Valley Center.

Each client has a service and support administrator, a kind of case manager who is responsible for connecting them with needed resources and funding.

Wilin: 419-427-8413
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